How do no contact orders work in Washington state?

In theory, no-contact orders are designed to protect victims of domestic violence from their alleged abusers. In reality, they are often issued against the wishes of the alleged victim. They serve only to tear lives and families apart.

What are the facts that frequently lead to a no contact order?

Most couples go through events at one point or another that place a strain upon their relationship. Circumstances can escalate to the point where one party to a heated argument calls 911, regardless of whether a crime occurred or not. Often this is in a misguided attempt to have the police act as a mediator or “referee” to the dispute. Regardless of a person’s intent in calling 911, the police approach 911 calls to domestic disputes as a potential criminal investigation, which can ultimately lead to allegations of physical abuse.

When police are called to a scene where domestic violence is alleged to have occurred in Washington, they are required to make an arrest if they determine there is probable cause that a domestic violence offense has been committed. More often than not, this means that one of the parties will be going to jail, even if the other party does not want this individual arrested or removed from the home.

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How does a no contact order affect your life?

Before an individual accused of domestic violence is released from jail, a judicial officer routinely enters a pretrial no-contact order prohibiting the accused from having any contact with the alleged victim, even in situations where there is no prior criminal history or the alleged victim indicates he or she does not want the no-contact order entered.

This means that the individual cannot contact the victim — in person, over the phone, by email or by text — until the judge lifts the order. In certain circumstances, this can be a matter of months or years.

These orders go into effect without a trial and can make it extremely difficult for the individuals accused of the offense. If you have been accused of domestic violence, you should immediately contact an attorney who understands the complexities that accompany domestic violence arrests and can help you protect yourself at this time.

What damage is done by a no contact order?

Most no-contact orders are issued against people who share a home with the alleged victim or who share parental responsibilities with the alleged victim. When a no-contact order is issued against you, you cannot have any contact with the alleged victim and you cannot return to your home. Since the order is intended to remain in place until the domestic violence case is resolved, you will need to find a new place to live, perhaps permanently.

If you and the victim happen to work together, the order can threaten or disrupt your employment status. The order will also interfere with your relationship with your children. Since you cannot contact the alleged victim in any way, you cannot arrange to spend time with your kids.

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What happens if I violate my no contact order?

Violation of a no-contact order is a crime. You can go to jail for it. Furthermore, the prosecutors will use any violation to further strengthen the domestic violence case against you. It doesn’t matter whether the alleged victim wanted to get in touch with you. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances were. You will be held responsible for any contact with the alleged victim.

Our team is comprised of former domestic violence prosecutors, we can help.

Our attorneys know domestic violence, because we have served on the other side of these cases. We know how the opposition deals with no-contact orders. We understand how this one issue ties into the bigger picture of the domestic violence charge.

More importantly, we know how to help. We can work to prevent a no-contact order from being issued against you in the first place. If one has already been issued, we may be able to fight it or have it modified. We can ask the court to permit you to see your children or return to the family home. We can certainly defend you against any related domestic violence charges.


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